Phillies: 2 Finalists Emerge for Hitting Coach Position
Back in late October, NBC Sports Philadelphia wrote that “it would not be surprising” to see the Phillies “consider a reunion with Matt Stairs, their hitting coach in 2017.”
As it turns out, they were correct, as according to Breen, the organization recently interviewed the Phillies’ 2008 NLCS Game 4 hero for the hitting coach position over the phone.
Stairs spent just one season as Padres hitting coach in 2018; he was dismissed with the team wanting a “different message” and “voice,” according to general manager A.J. Preller, who told the Associated Press:
"“We have some other guys in mind who have real upside. I’m pretty realistic that it was a younger roster, with developing players. From a performance standpoint we didn’t have tons of guys who improved. It’s not like the entire team overachieved. We did have some improvement, but at the end of the day, sitting down with [manager] Andy [Green] and talking about it, we thought maybe a different voice, a different connection point will hopefully lead to better performance.”"
Under Stairs, the Padres ranked last on-base percentage (.297), tied for second-to-last in batting average (.235), and tied for third-to-last in slugging percentage (.380), all the while recording the second-most strikeouts (1,523).
Stairs left the Phillies following the 2017 season, his first as a professional coach, amid a Phillies managerial change that saw Pete Mackanin depart and Gabe Kapler arrive. Phillies coaches were told by general manager Matt Klentak that “they could try to return with the new manager, which was not a guarantee, or look elsewhere for employment,” according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki.
Stairs did the latter, but would ultimately last just one season. He did not coach this past season in the majors.
A 19-season major league career with 12 different franchises, Stairs’ most memorable surely is winning the World Series with the Phillies in 2008. He helped his team to a Game 4 victory NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, slugging a game-winning, pinch-hit two-run homer opposite Jonathan Broxton at Dodger Stadium. He also played for the Phillies in 2009, and ended his career with the Padres (2010) and Washington Nationals (2011).
Prior, he played for the: Montreal Expos (1992-93), Boston Red Sox (1995), Oakland Athletics (1996-2000), Chicago Cubs (2001), Milwaukee Brewers (2002), Pittsburgh Pirates (2003), Kansas City Royals (2004-2006), Texas Rangers (2006), Detroit Tigers (2006), and Toronto Blue Jays (2007-08).
In his career, Stairs batted a combined .262 with 294 doubles, 13 triples, 265 home runs, 899 RBI, 717 walks and 770 runs spanning 1,895 games. He is MLB’s all-time leader in pinch home runs (23) and has the second-most home runs by a Canadian-born player (265), trailing just Larry Walker (383). His five pinch home runs for the Phillies in 2009 tied Gene Freese (1959) for the single-season franchise record.
Stairs has been inducted into the New Brunswick Hall of Fame (2012), as well as the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (2015). Among his other professional roles includes being a guest spring training instructor for the Phillies in 2016, in-studio analyst for NESN, MLB Network Radio co-host, and three seasons (2014-16) as a color analyst for Phillies television broadcasts on CSN Philly.